How can a person can get from a rock bottom life in addiction to an extraordinary life in sobriety? Just listen to Tommy Rosen’s story of true transformation.
Not only will Tommy be celebrating 27 years of sobriety, he is the founder of Recovery 2.0, a yoga teacher, and an author.
He’s built a mecca for recovery and has created an enormous resource for people who want to get clean and sober by integrating the mind, body, and spirit.
CLEAN DATE: June 23rd, 1991
Listen to Tommy’s powerful story!
Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!
Tommy Rosen doesn’t have a rigid daily routine. His morning ‘sadhana’ or spiritual practice might include one or more of the following: yoga, meditation, chanting, journaling, walking in nature, riding his bike, or even calling a friend. He will incorporate any kind of practice that brings him into connection with himself before the day gets going.
Tommy is passionate about eating healthy, nutritious food and getting in lots of exercise. He also devotes time to his wife, Kia.
Recovery 2.0 honors all paths to recovery from all addictions. It’s a place for healing, connection, personal development and tremendous fun. With Recovery 2.0, Tommy and his team work on projects and cycles. They are organizing an online conference that will run from June 6th through 10th. It’s an intense time as he prepares by doing podcasts and interviews, while communicating with his team to make sure everything is getting done.
Tommy has a rich and varied life, sometimes working diligently, and sometimes working in a different kind of a flow. They hold annual Kundalini yoga retreats in New Mexico for the summer solstice and frequently travel to places like Costa Rica and India for yoga events.
Everything comes from my spiritual dedication to being a person on the path of recovery, which is really for me a path of discovery.
Tommy says that his understanding of the way things work in the seen and unseen realms has shifted a lot over the years. His openness has grown. His willingness to listen more deeply has increased. The practices, from 12 Steps to yoga and meditation, have unlocked his ability to see and to relate to the parts of life that are less visible.
Addiction is a gross form of relationship. The more we recover, the more we move from the gross to the subtle.
Tommy used to have an external concept of god. Through yoga, spiritual work, and spending time with wise people, he now believes that God includes him. God is everything. How can he exclude himself?
On some level, God must be threaded through me.
The First Time
The very first time Tommy drank, he was 13 years old. He drank 5 or 6 beers because he wanted adventure. Instead of adventure, it knocked him right on his ass. He woke up the next morning with all his clothes on, but at that time he didn’t think much of it. He was just a kid messing around, but he recognized he was venturing into a territory of self-empowered exploration.
I had the power to change the way I felt.
Tommy Rosen’s Story
Tommy was heavily into sports in school. It was the extreme type of activity that would take him away from the negative aspects of life. At home, it was tense, stressful. He was filled with worry, fear, anger, bitterness, and sadness.
When he had discovered marijuana, it was the very thing he’d been looking for. It made him feel a level of relaxation, yet awareness that helped him control whatever had been bothering him. It became a 10-year affair that acted as a gateway. By the end of his addiction, he got into hard drugs and moved from recreational drug use into a serious problem.
It was difficult to separate the dangers of using from the loving community that was formed around music and drugs. This culture allowed him to get away from his home life and he found genuine love and connection.
I would hug my friends.
That was the first time outside of family he had physical affection. He tries not to vilify it. It made sense to them at the time. He experienced the highest high, which set him on the quest for the continuous high. This became the crux of his addiction. His life became worse and worse as he let go of his dreams to chase that first high.
…you’ll need something stronger. Someone will come along and have it and give it to you. And because there is pressure mounting in your life, you’re going to say yeah.
He never meant to be an addict, but drugs gradually became the focus of life. At 22 years old, he was smoking cocaine and doing heroin. He reached his first bottom after a 3-day cocaine run. He had nobody. No connection with his family. He had no next move. He picked up the phone and called his father. He could hear his dad’s tears when he asked Tommy to go into treatment. Tommy refused at first, but felt his dad’s pain and gave in.
These substances will put a barrier between you and everything that’s important.
Tommy went to Hazelden and he says it was one of the most incredible things in his life. He didn’t feel that way about it when he got there, but he began to feel it a few weeks later. Still a stubborn addict, he didn’t want to tell anybody yet, but he was starting to unravel what happened to him.
After he got out, he floated for a while. He started off going to 7 meetings a week, then 5, then 3. Soon he wondered why he even needed any meetings.
If you don’t have a plan in early recovery for staying sober, then you do have a plan to not be sober.
He was offered marijuana at a party and took as if it was nothing. By the end of the night he took ecstasy and drank alcohol. After completing a year of sobriety, he was back into his old lifestyle. He traveled to Europe to follow the Grateful Dead, but something happened. He couldn’t get high because of his tolerance. The drugs weren’t working anymore, and he was lost.
Tommy sought out meetings. He moved to San Francisco where he really got into working the steps and making his life about recovery. He was delivered freedom from drug addiction.
It doesn’t mean fighting the urge to do it. It means not thinking about it at all.
But he still didn’t have all the answers. He substituted his addictions with sex, gambling, cigarettes and more. He knew he had to up his training or he’d be in danger of relapse. That’s when his guru stepped into his life. Everything Tommy does now is through his guru’s teachings. The missing piece to his recovery was yoga. Now Tommy has all the tools he needs to control the way he feels without drugs.
What kept Tommy from getting clean?
The prejudice and misconceptions about the 12 Steps and getting sober kept Tommy from accepting treatment. He thought his life would never be fun and that he would never be able to enjoy himself again.
He also held onto the hope of being able to use again one day, unwilling to give up the experiences psychedelics gave him. His consciousness rose above that finally. He now knows he doesn’t need psychedelics to explore his inner condition.
That Aha Moment
There was a period that he went to 60 meetings in 60 days with his sponsor Neil. After 60 days, Tommy began to feel like ‘I want this.’ He hadn’t ever wanted it before. It had always been something he had to do or that was forced upon him. He finally really wanted it and that changed the game.
In addiction, if you want something, you’re going to go get it. In recovery, it’s the same.
Tommy was told by his guru:
Any monkey can have a wedding, but you are going to need help having a marriage.
Tommy needed to do some work around his marriage. He is now married going on 15 years to his incredible wife Kia.
Suggestion for the Newcomer
Do not be alone with your thoughts.
In 26 years of his years of recovery, getting away from his thoughts is the thing Tommy is best at. When he is in trouble, he is aware of it and seeks a teacher. Tommy says that if you have a good community, stick with them. You will overcome addiction and live an extraordinary life.
See you then!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.